Choosing to up sticks and move to another country is rarely an undertaking made lightly, but the European Union’s (EU) relaxed regulations for citizens of its member states have meant that in recent decades it has become far less daunting to move to another country within the EU…
Famously, EU citizens have the legal right to reside, work and claim some sort of healthcare in all 28 member states (with a few provisos and exceptions here and there), and while some people evidently see this as a bad thing, for millions of Europeans it has been a blessing – financial, cultural, emotional – to be able to move around at will.
And new data by the UK’s Office of National Statistics published last week has revealed just how many British citizens currently enjoy this freedom of movement.
According to the data there are 784,900 Brits officially living elsewhere in the EU, with 37% of that figure resident in Spain, which remains the most popular location in Europe for British expats.
This means that 293,500 Brits are officially resident in Spain, but by most other metrics the actual number of British people living in the country is known to be far higher – perhaps up to three times higher, according to some estimates.
Many Brits are lucky enough to own properties in both countries and take the opportunity to spend plenty of time in Spain without ever becoming officially resident there.
Others may work, pay taxes and live “on the grid” in Spain, but have failed to register at their local town hall as resident and thus are unlikely to be counted in the official figures.
Statistics from 2017 also show that Brits of and above retirement age accounted for 41% of all UK expats in Spain.
The UK data also showed that 69% of all Brits who are registered as living elsewhere in the EU are resident in just three countries: Spain, France and Germany. France is home to 152,900 Brits, with Germany hosting 96,500.
France has the most British children resident in the EU, hosting 34%, while only 19% of Britis expats in France are above retirement age – a surprisingly low figure given France’s reputation as a retirement hotspot for Britons.
Beyond the EU the data paints a familiar picture: 33% of British-born emigrants reside in Australia or New Zealand, with 28% living in the USA and Canada – which is actually 2% higher than the percentage of Brits in the EU.